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How Do You Potty Train a 3 Year Old?

Well I am having trouble with my 3 year old son. We have been trying to potty train him. He refuses to wear underwear and to use the toilet. I have tried everything from putting cheerios in his training potty, to food coloring in the big toilet so when he flushes it he can see the colors. my son is very intelligent he speaks fluently and knows when he has to go to the bathroom. He will tell us mom I have to pee and then we will try and get him to sit on the toilet and he will just laugh at us and say I dont want to use it. He also knows when he has to poop. I have tried everything. I have even offered treats. Help I need some more ideas on how to get him potty trained. He will use the toilet when he wants to. my son is very stubburn.

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I tried the treats too, and that didn't work. I went to the $1 store and bought lots of little gifts and wrapped them up in brightly colored paper, put them in a large basket and set it in the bathroom so he could see it...but not get to it. I continually reinforced that if he went on the potty he would get to choose a gift. I did this for 3 days where he would get to pick one out each time he went. After the 3rd day, we started a "potty chart" with his favorite stickers. If he went the entire day going on the potty, he got to choose a gift. After 5 days of this, the gifts were gone but we continued the potty chart for about 2 weeks. If he went the entire week going on the potty, he got to do something special (his choice was going to McD's playland and the second time was Chucky Cheese). After that, I would say he was completely trained and has only had one accident since (he's now 5). What kid doesn't like presents...worked for him! Good luck!

How do I potty train a 3 year old? I wait until they are 3 1/2 and they do it on their own :o)
Seriously, my daughter and then my son both did it all by themselves at 3 1/2, after spending a year stressing us all out because of my insistance on trying.
They'll do it when they are ready, just mention it every now and then. All of the sudden BAM no more diapers, just like that.
So much less stressful, lol.
Mom to 4 and soon one more through another adoption.


I am afraid you will have to wait until HE is ready. The best thing to do is back off and give him a little time. Once it stops being a power struggle, introduce the potty to him again. He will do it in his own time when he gets tired of the diapers.

L. :)

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I agree with Beth on making your son responsible for the clean up. Most children like to make a mess but the clean up isn't so much fun. I'm a mother of four children of which three were all potty trained before they turned one. I was bed-ridden with my second child and missed the opportunity to start my first son early with his potty training. If nothing else works put him in underwear with plastic pants, children usually do not like the feel of it without the absorbtion of a diaper and tends to help make them want to use the potty. You said you were about to get married, congrats, do the men in your family help with potty training? My son really got the idea in his head to go on the potty from his dad, grandpa, and uncle. Standing up and going potty like a big boy really made him heppy. So happy in fact that is how my daughter first decided to go. SHe said she had to go potty and ran to the bathroom for the first time. Standing proudly on the toilet seat she peed down her legs into the pot so she could pee like a big boy. After I explained she wasn't a boy with the same equipment she started going on it like the rest of us girls. Keep trying it will happen. Good luck!

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With my first child, I bought a large floor puzzle and every time he went on the potty, he got to add another piece to the puzzle. With my daughter, the thing that got things started in motion was the "Elmo Potty Time" DVD. I would use Elmo as an example and say, "Elmo goes potty and he wants you to also!" I was surprised that actually got her to the point that she wanted to try. So I planned several days to stay home, knowing that it will take two days of concerted effort (and some mess) to accomplish the task. I set up the potty chair in the room we were in most during the day and dressed her in something easy for her to pull down herself. Then I took away the safety net of the diaper and/or pull-up. Kids do not like the feeling of peeing on themselves and it's my experience that if they do it one or two times they will feel the urgency of getting to the potty. Be prepared for lots of false alarms, that is all a part of the first week. But it is worth all the effort!

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Hi A.,
I hope I can help. Years and years ago when I was in the midst of parenting I had a three year old boy, the brightest of my four children, who refused to be toilet trained. Like you I had tried everything. My mother found a hint in a magazine which I used and it was the first thing to work.
I filled a big glass bowl with brightly colored little presents, some silly things like a stick of gum, some bigger like a tiny toy car. When it was all filled and looked enticing I walked by this little boy making sure he could get a good look, I then put it up high where he couldn't reach it and I didn't say a word about it.
He, of course, asked what it was and with a very calm, even voice I told him if he ever used the potty (and it was his entirely his choice) he could have a gift. I didn't say another word about it. I think he was trained within four days. And, no, he didn't continue expecting treats.
Whatever happens, he will train himself when it becomes important to him. With my son I felt it was a question of control so I gave it to him.

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He sounds beyond old enough to be trained he's playing games.

I would start making him 100% accountable and responsible for his potty time. If he has a accident have him remove the clothing, put in laundry room or bucket, wipe up messes, clean himself up and put new clothing on. After all that work by himself with little help from you he will learn it's alot easier to just use the potty. When he does start to use the potty reward him but donot bribe him. Act happy and proud but with him I wouldn't over do the happiness he may want to not go again. If he has a accident act like you could care less and tell him exactly what he must now do to clean up. Get a little tough..

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A., we had the same situation with our son. Very smart little boy:)
Our neighbor said she made a big deal about throwing away all leftover diapers/pullups, etc. Let him throw them away. Talk to him, tell him he is smart enough and old enough as well as brave enough to throw them away himself. This work for our son! I did end up sitting in the bathroom for an hour for the first poop though with him. Sitting to poop and standing to poop are very different things to a 3yr old! Let him know that you know it is different, and that change is hard, but he is brave and that he can do it...

My son is awake ....Good luck!!

Hello. I am sorry that you are having problems. I feel just as frustrated as you because my 3 year old son will tinkle in the potty but will not poop. He knows when he has to go but will wait until his pull-up or underware is full and then say that he stinks or has poopy undercloths. I spoke with his Dr. and she gave me some interesting advise. She stated that I should put him in a pull-up, cut a small hole in the bottom, let him get used to how it feels to sit on the potty and use it when the pull-up is on. As the days/weeks go on, continue to cut the hole larger until eventually it is only the rim of the pull-up and hopefully that will work. She stated that sometimes even if they're used to sitting on the potty they are afraid of the poop process. So by gradually cutting the hole larger (as you see progress) will help their comfort levels. I hope I was some help. My son just began this process. He will sit with the hole on the pot. But I am looking for warning signs of when he has to go so that we can get him there sooner. I noticed that 20 minutes after he drinks milk he'll have a bm. So I will give him milk every 2-3 hrs or so. Cut a hole in his pull-up and 20 minutes later sit him on the pot. He gets excited. But still not willing to go on his own yet. Umm. his father bought another potty seat. And when he goes for a bm he will take our son and they will sit on the potty together. My fiance will read magazines and books and so will our son until they're done. Try that too with the oher experiment. I will give YOU some potty peace too.

Tell him that he is now big and will no longer be wearing diapers, throw or hide the diapers. If he refuses underware put pants on him without them, this will show you mean business- "three" is very smart and understands all the drama he is creating by simply refusing- three year old's want to be in control, make him a sticker chart, give him a sticker for going if you want tell him 5 stickers earns a ___________.
Don't compromise or give choices, other areas in his life he needs that, but NOT this particular area- Do not talk about potty training in front of him, or talk that much about it at all. The less you care, the less drama he will feel he is creating- Hope this works- Mother of 3 boys 17,16 and 7.

When you child gets to 3+, that is when potty training turns into a power struggle. At his age, he's totally big enough to use the toilet, and there is no reason for him not to. Just reading oyur post he is playing you, he's gaining the power. He knows he's in control because you will let him be by agreeing to keep him in diapers if he doesn't want to use the toilet. Don't give him a choice you are the parent.

I agree 100% with Beth, put him in underwear, and when he has an accident, make HIM take the wets off, make HIM wipe up the floor (you go back ovr it later of course) and make HIM get clean clothes to put on, and make HIM wash himself up. AT his age, it won't take him long to realize that its much easier to just use the toilet than to take 15 minutes out of play time to clean up every time he pees. Don't give up. Mark it on the calendar with red ink, say 'ok on MOnday we will wear underwear all the time, no more diapers' and stick to it. Don't go back and forth, go to underwear and thats it.

What would he do if you didn't have any diapers or pull-ups in the house? Does he still go in his pants? Have you tried different types of underwear? Is it a sensory issue such as he doesn't like the fabric or tightness of the underwear? Could he try going without underwear for a while? Will he put his pants on without any underwear? Have you tried a reward system? pick a toy he wants and gets to buy it when he goes so many days without accidents... you know the drill. Try to think about what he gets by not going in the toilet. Does he get a lot of attention? Does he think he gets more 1:1 time when he goes in his pants? Is there another baby around and he is trying to act like him/her? What would happen if when you change his dirty pants you don't talk to him at all, just change him and go on with your business, but when he uses the potty have a huge celebration. (jump up and down cheering, play something special, call grandma, etc.) It almost sounds like a control issue. He has control over the situation and you can't make him to on the potty. Try telling him that it is his choice as to when he wants to be a big boy. Once he decides he wants to be a big boy then he gets to do xzy (something he wants to do, but hasn't yet-stay over night w/friend, go somewhere special). Then when he goes in his pants you can put the responsibility back on him. Say, "That was your choice to go in your pants. Just remember when you choose to be a big boy you get to...." and leave it at that. Just be sure to come through with your promises. These are just a few ideas, hopefully there is something you haven't already tried. Good luck!!

I've potty trained two boys already and it didn't seem to get easier but I did learn a few things. I hope in some small way I can help. I don't mean to offend you but if he laughs at you when you offer the potty then he may just have the ball in his court. It takes a lot of patience to potty train but at the same time you have to be stern and lay down the law. Don't act frustrated in front of him that probably fuels his fire. Maybe you can use a sticker chart, I always kept one in the bathroom and that seemed to be a motivater for my boys. With rewards only after they learned how to master peeing in the potty, and so on. It seemed each time that I had to potty train my boys it was in stages-first only focusing on the pee because he has to stand up and then on the poop because he has to sit down. This may not work for everyone but once they knew they had to stand to pee then sitting to poop somehow made sense. YOu may also want to set up rewards like "if you pee in the toilet then you may watch your favorite movie or have a friend over and so on. I know it is winter time but my boys seemed to enjoy going outside to pee..must be a boy thing. Or you can check out your local library for videos on potty training one that my boys loved was "potty time" cool for them geeky for us. It is now time for you to be stubborn don't ask him, tell him. sometimes a timer helped, my boys would sit there just to hear the beeper sound. I hope something here can help you. Once he catches on this time will be a distant memory!

As most of the reply have indicated, this is about control, and he holds ALL the cards...he has demonstrated that he can do it "if he wants to", so obviously it's not nearly as big a deal to him as it is to you.

So turn it ALL over to him: "Let him pick a date" as suggested already is one way, another is to get out the diapers and the big-boy pants and tell him it is HIS DECISION, if he wants to be a your "little baby" for a while longer and wear diapers then he may, and if he wants to be a Big Boy and go in the potty (and do Big Boy activities) then he can wear the pants, but it is up to him.

Then when he asks to do something that would be easier without diapers let him know that he can't do it if he's using a diaper to potty. Let him figure it out, he will as soon as he decides which is more important, the fight (and attention, even if negative) or the other activities he is missing.

But mainly, don't sweat it-there is really nothing you can do to force him, anyone that says manipulation and force worked for them had a child that decided the pressure was more trouble than just giving in. Those that trained in a day had a child that was ready to train in a day. They are not better or worse mommys than you, they just had children with different temperaments and body comforts and awareness (some kids can't stand having wet pants and will pee ANYWHERE else to avoid it. Fortunately there are potties *L* available).

Good luck :-).

Relax and quit trying. It is a control issue. He WILL use the toilet soon enough. He is smart and from what you have written, he knows what to do. Just offer the opportunity to use the potty and let HIM decide. All children eventually use the toilet. Potty training is overrated anyway - public bathrooms are gross and believe me, he will want to use every one. I have raised three - all used the the toilet at different times from barely 2yrs to 3yr8mo. The later two went from diapers to using the toilet day and night on the same day - their choice. No battles, and only a rare accident or two. No nagging them about sitting on the potty, they told me. I swear by this method. You will have a lifetime to battle with him over things that are much bigger. This issue WILL solve itself (unless there is a medical factor). Good Luck!

Hi A., you just described my son, who is now 4 1/2. This was my son's idea of potty training: I take my underwear off to pee, but I'll put a pull-up on to poop! Kid you not, he would take his underwear off, and grab a pull-up, put it on, just so he could poop. My solution? Take the pull-ups away. Then one day when he had to poop, he started begging (almost to the point of panic) for a pull-up. I told him that we didn't have anymore and if he has to go poopy, he has to use the toilet. So he didn't have a choice in the matter. He was also 3 when this was going on. We figured out that he was scared of his poop, because if he flushed the poop in the toilet that he was flushing part of "himself" away. It's rather cute if you think about it, but we just reassured him that he wouldn't get hurt by flushing his poopy away. Good luck to you, my son is as stubborn as they get too.

I agree that this sounds like a battle of the wills. We went through something similar, and every day I would ask my son "do you want to wear underwear today?" and he would usually say no. Then all of a sudden one day he said "on Sunday I want to wear underwear" (no clue why that day but we went with it). Sure enough, come Sunday, we took of the diaper and never looked back, with very few accidents. What we determined is that he was physically ready WAY before he was mentally ready...and if they don't WANT to, you can't make them. I appreciated that we never had any sort of battles, bribery, or tears; it was all just matter of fact. The biggest challenge for me was that I wanted it to happen sooner (happened about 1 month shy of his 3rd birthday) but the reality, in waiting I felt like he trained himself. Maybe letting him have some control would help your situation?

Hi A., I had the same thing happen with son when he was three and I understand the difficulties. My husband and I had tried several different approaches as well but, the one thing that really worked was a prize box. We had filled up the prize box with cheap 1 to 2 dollar toys and also candy that he really loved. Everytime he went into the bathroom and peed or pooped he knew he got some kind of surprize and he got to pick what toy or candy he wanted. It worked even better because he would brag to his cousin about what toy he had got that day because he went potty in the potty. I hope that you have good luck with potty training.
K. C.

Have him pick a date on the calendar when he wants to start wearing underwear and no more diapers. My son was stubborn too and this worked for him - HE was in control of the date. Also make sure he picks out the underwear if he can. Again, it puts him in control.

I had a friend who potty-trained her son in one day. She put him in the backyard naked. Eventually they are going to pee, and for her son, he didn't like the feeling of being wet and messy (diapers and pull-ups will often pull the moisture away from skin, so they don't get the feeling) and next time asked to use the potty when he needed to go.

Well we tried when my son was 3 and after a few days of tears and purposeful accidents we stopped and tried again a year later (right before his 4th birthday). My son too is very stubborn and he just wasn't mentally ready for that step. He was physically ready but not mentally ready. Like I said we tried again a year later and he was just ready for it then. The thing I found is that the more worked up I got the more likely it was for my son to refuse to use the potty. He's been going strong at it now for 3+ months and has probably had 1 or 2 "accidents" in the past month, and those are right in front of the toilet (he just waited too long and couldn't get his pants down fast enough).

My son was 3 and half before he was potty trained! What finally worked was making him change himself whenever he peed in his pants and underwear! I didn't help him! I would just give him clean undies and pants and let him do it himself! After a while this didn't help anymore, so I allowed him one outfit a day! Once he peed in his second outfit and I would just give him undies! After one day of this, he stopped wetting himself and started using the toliet! I know it sounds kind of mean, but I really had him be responsible for his mess and clean up! It worked!

How do I potty train a 3 year old? I wait until they are 3 1/2 and they do it on their own :o)
Seriously, my daughter and then my son both did it all by themselves at 3 1/2, after spending a year stressing us all out because of my insistance on trying.
They'll do it when they are ready, just mention it every now and then. All of the sudden BAM no more diapers, just like that.
So much less stressful, lol.
Mom to 4 and soon one more through another adoption.


This sounds like a power struggle to me. My nephew went through the same thing, and I am doing my best to avoid it with my almost 3 year old myself. I would totally stop talking about it for a week (or more). Just drop the subject, and see what he does. He knows he could do it, and will do it when he is ready, you can not force him to do it. Many boys are not potty trained until 3 1/2 or later (see other posts on this site for more examples).

Good luck, and try not to stress, he can sense that and may be using your concern to push your buttons. Also, you could give him lots of other choices and see if that helps him understand that he can choose lots of things and using the potty would be a good choice to make.


We just finished potty training our 3-year-old boy... After trying a lot of things, we realized that we had to reward him and the reward should be instant. He didn't really understand, "If you potty now, we'll do something special later." We set up a potty chart with a bunch of little squares for going potty... He got a sticker each time he went and that was the only reward (he actually LOVED it). Going poop was HORRIBLE since he's a stubborn one too. So, I did a sticker chart with 3 BIG spaces for stickers. Each time he went poop, he got a sticker and after only 3 poops, he got to do something special with his cousin (we took him to the theatre for the first time to see Alvin and the Chipmunks). When he did accidently go in his pants, we tried not to be angry but, instead said we were "so sad." I think the emotions got to him better than some of the rewards... He wanted to see us happy and did not like when we said we were sad. And, when he did go on the potty we told him how happy we were and said, "Thank you for not going potty in your pants." In the end, it was the simple things that worked. Good luck!

A., I am going through the exact same thing right now with my 3 year old son. So STUBBORN! My first son was easy. My second son just flat out refuses to use the toilet; sounds just like your son. What I have resorted to is outright bribery. If he pees in the toilet every time for a week, I am going to take him to the toystore to pick out a toy. It seems to be working. I have put up sticker charts in the bathroom to keep track of the times when he uses the toilet. The way I figure it, I need to somehow get him used to the toilet so he does not revert to pullups. Doesn't it take 2 weeks to form a new habit? Good luck. I have no advice, just wanted to say I understand your situation!

One thing we learned with our first child (a girl though) is that when the decision is made for potty training, there is no "partial" training. This means that it's big boy/girl underwear (the REAL stuff) and not a diaper (of any variety) part of the day. Now they have pull-ups too which really are diapers in disguise. This is day and night - no going back. It's tough because we all want an easy clean up on the accidents they will have.

We let each child pick out the underwear they wanted from the store to make them "special" and theirs. Then we did bribe them with M&M's. We kept a jar in the bathroom just for this.

We had a babysitter who had trained her 3 kids and when I brought my daughter over to her house the first time (she was 2-1/2 YO then), I had a diaper on her. Her first question was "I thought you were potty training her?" I told her that I had been bringing her to the other sitter with a training pant on and she'd come home in a diaper, so I figured I'd leave the diaper on. She looked at my daughter & asked her if she wanted to be a big girl, which my daughter of course nodded to. When I picked her up that night, she had underwear on and the sitter told me that she was a big girl all day & wouldn't need diapers any more. Other than an occasional accident, that was it.

When it came to my son, he was just over 3 when he decided to be a big boy. Same thing too - all in one day.

Kids aren't "physically" mature enough generally until about 30 months. And regardless, they have to admit that they want to and are ready. It isn't something you can impose on them or it does become a power struggle. It's one thing they do learn that they can control in their little lives.

Some times it really helps to learn some things from "older" moms. Oddly, reading the replies about letting kids run around naked while training. One of the potty training books really uses this as the theory of how to do it. In part this is why diapers of any sort do not work, including pull-ups, because they need to really FEEL getting wet and all the convenience things pull it away to keep them dry. A little pee running down their legs can change their minds.

My son took a while to train and he was much like yours - stubborn, aware of his body, able to control his bladder, but not interested in using the toilet.

For him what finally worked was getting ready to start pre-school. He had been to school to visit and for a week-long camp in the summer, and was excited to go back. I made it clear that he couldn't wear pull-ups to school, and we started out by just having him wear underwear or go naked during the hours that he would be in school in the fall. So from 1:00 - 3:30 every day he had to take off his pull-up, and if he needed to go he had to use the toilet. Some days he would hold it and then at 3:31 run and put on a pull-up and go in there, but we reached our initial goal of him being able to go to school.

It really took him a long time to be comfortable pooping on the toilet. I let him pick out a reward he could have when he went on the toilet, and even with the reward of his choice as enticement it was probably a good 4-5 months before he went. Any attempts by me to encourage him to go just set us back further - it really needed to be his decision. (he would wear underwear but change into a pull-up to poop.)

One thing that really helped with counting down to a date on the calendar was to make a paper chain, using craft foam and hot glue so it was more durable. We wrote the dates on each link of the chain, and could also write an event on the inside (we were going on vacation during this time and so the chain was also our vacation calendar.) Every morning we removed one of the links from the chain. That was he could visualize how much time was left until he had to stay dry at school, and could see the chain getting shorter day by day. It seemed less abstract than a traditional calendar.

Your son sounds like he is very smart. I have not delt with potty training a boy yet, but from experience with my girls I have to say every child is difrent and what works one week may not work the next. Try to stay positive and encouraging. If you make shure he knows how thrilled you are that he's going on the potty and down play the accidents more likely that with time everything will work out...
Things that worked for my girls 3 and 4 are:
fav. toys pretending to go on the potty, potty party, books, bubbles, a little song and dance, stickers,....
In time he will go, just try to keep positive and focus on enjoying the time you have together! Best of Luck!

Possibly taking him to the toy store to pick out something he really likes and having him save for it as a reward would help. My son saved for a big wheel tricycle which motivated him. The toy was big enough that the habit was formed by the time he got the toy.

I am facing the same problem- highly intelligent, speaks fluently but will NOT just go to the bathroom! He will go potty IF you force him- but he will not go on his own- and refuses to poop on the toilet! I guess it is comforting to know I'm not alone!

Get the book, "toilet training in less than a day" by Nathan Azrin--it's easily available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. It's a paperback from years ago, should be less than $10. Read it, set aside a morning with your son, just you and him and no interruptions, apply the book, and he will be toilet trained. That being said, remember this is an older book, and a lot of the things in it may be outdated, but the basic idea of positive reinforcement to intensely train a kid to use the toilet works beautifully. I've used it with my three kids, my sister used it with her 5, and I've recommended it to many people along the way.


We felt that our son was interested in potty training after he turned 2. We read the books with him, got out the potty chair, but he didn't go for it. We backed off until after his 3rd birthday. Feeling that way you did, that he was able to express himself, we tried harder. Like you, we felt we tried everything. The one thing that finally clicked with our son, now 3 1/2 and fully trained, was a sticker chart with a bigger reward at the end. We made a grid with spaces for stickers. He went to the store with us and picked out the stickers he would use only for his potty chart. Then we found that he really wanted more train cars for his set. We picked one out and that was the final reward for filling in his chart.

At the beginning, we gave him stickers for just sitting on the potty. As we felt he was ready, we gave him an extra sticker if he sat on the potty and went. We were able to change the "rules" for each chart as we felt he was ready. Eventually we were able to use pull ups and then moved on to underwear. We went through 4 or 5 stickers charts, adding more squares with the later ones. He always had a picture of his "goal" (the train car) on the back of the chart.

It really work for him and we finished with one big item to let him know we were done with the charts and he was now able to use the potty without the charts. We also discovered that when we were picking out underwear with him, the cute character ones that appealed to him had itchy tags. Once we figured that out, he was more willing to wear underwear.

Good Luck and hope it helps.

Although I do not have a child of this age yet, my sister-in-law also had a very stubborn son at that age. They decided to stop trying and leave it alone for awhile. He actually didn't fully potty train until he was ready to go to school, but they didn't start trying to train until later. I also know they had some kind of gift that he REALLY wanted sitting so he could see it, but couldn't get to it. They told him when he was completely potty trained he could have that. Hopefully that will help.

Hi Amamnda,

I would take a BIG break. Relax let the stress of trying disapear. It was SO nice of that other mom to say that she potty trained one year olds but really the average age for boys is 3 1/2. I have been a nanny for 13 years and have brought many children through potty training. I do not believe in giving rewards. Not having messy pants is it's own reward.

The way I train is pick out cool underwear with your child(which I am sure you have done already) and put your child in the underwear. If you are afraid he will wet out in public then put a pull-up or platic liner OVER the underwear so he really feels the wetness but no huge mess. If he has more than two accidents within a few days then stop for a couple of weeks then try again. Act like it's no big deal and just keep saying..."it's ok you'll get it someday."

Like the some of the other moms said it puts him in control and it completely takes the stress off of you. All kids learn at different times. And it's completly normal for kids to have issues with pooping during this process, just make sure they drink plenty of water and eat as much fruit as you can get in them :o)

Good luck I know it can be tough sometimes!

I have four kids, 15yr daughter, 12yr daughter, 3yr son, and 2 1/2yr daughter. With all my kids, we have taken away the diapers. No pullups no diapers, just the cloth training pants. My oldest, she potty trained in just 3 days. She wanted to sit on the potty chair and pee like a big girl. My second took 2 weeks. She didn't like to sit on the potty chair so we put her on the big chair with a seat for her little butt. My son took us 6 months. He didn't want to sit on any thing or stand like daddy. Well my husband was home and I was at work and my don was given a blow up door of Winnie the Poo, tree with door that opens up. It was the funniest thing I have ever come home too. My husband and the two other girls took turns blowing this thing up. My husband put it infront of the bathroom, and told him that this was his special door and that he can only go in the door when he had to go potty. Well his potty chair is winnie the poo as well and has a littl handle on it to "flush". We kept that door up for 3 months and then put it away. I has been going ever since with no problem. We are no trying to find a way to get the baby to start. We have number 5 on the way in May and I would love for her to be out of diapers when baby gets here but she is so far the hardest. You will have to get him out of diapers and into cloth, he will hate feeling wet and icky. Praise him everytime he goes or tries to go and make a mess. But let him know that he is now a big boy and he has to potty in the chair. Once you make him feel icky in wet cloths all day, he will decide to do it. He wants to see how far you will go to let him do what he wants about potty. Now if any one can give me a way to get my 2 yr to sit on the potty please let me know. She doesn't want the potty chair or sit on the big potty with her special seat. So I am up for any thing.


I had my son potty trained in 1 day when it came to peeing and only a few days with pooping. My trick was when it comes to boys (even grown men) they love to pee anywhere outside. I was visiting my sister who had a privacy fence one week and I had heard that if you let a boy run around naked outside that it would help to potty train them. Sure enough it worked! I let him run around naked outside and he loved it. By the end of the day I was trying to teach him to "aim" and how to lean up against the wall with one hand while he used to other to pee. Also, try asking him if he would like to pee on your tire. I know it sounds silly but it works, my son in the beginning would always ask if he could go pee on the tire of my car when ever he had to pee. I know this might be inconvenient at first but it gets them use to peeing somewhere other then their pants. If you don't want him to pee on your tire or something like that try taking his training potty outside and letting him use it there. When it came to using the "big boy potty" I too tried using treats and it didn't really work too well, so I put bite sized candy bars in a closed jar on the back of the toilet so that it would be in his sight, making him want it more. Good luck! Let us know how works out!

Hey, girl - you need to get ready for that wedding! He may feel some anxieties that you are feeling. There's a lot going on for him. Then address it again - (unless the wedding is way off) - my son was dry through the night at a year - but three before he was interested in trying a potty - and the poop? Think we tried everything! He went once, in the potty - and we had enlisted a friend to pose as 'Buzz Lightyear' on the phone - told him what a big boy he'd been - didn't work. Tried a wetting doll - had a party for her - and that was a fiasco. What finally worked for us was signing him up for preschool - and (preplanning the question) then asking the teacher if she'd have time to change poopy pull-ups. She said, no, in order to come and play with these kids, he'd have to be a big kid, too. That was the last of it. He wanted to go to this big kid school...

so, maybe preschool, maybe storytime at the library, maybe gymnastics - something special that he needs to be 'trained' for? (We tried prizes - my son would lay on the floor and wail about why he couldn't get the toy, now - basically drove us crazy - and after the tantrum, would be wet or poopy - didn't work at all) - oh, and my daughter? She turned three, asked for undies - and never went back! Pretty much did it on her own. Everyone's different!

It sounds like you have a little power struggle going on. My response to these has been to back way off. Don't mention the potty at all for a while and then only bring it up in reference to other kids or situations, commenting on them being big kids or grown up or something. It will have to be his idea to use the potty. On the plus side, he is probably very smart and strong-willed. These are good qualities when you aren't trying to potty train!

I completely and totally feel your frustration! My son is over 4 and is finally (mostly) trained. I thought it would NEVER happen! We started at two-and-a-half; it was a very long road. My advice is with the moms who said to not make it a power struggle. That's where we made a mistake: after he was three and we knew he was soon going to preschool, we got nervous and really started to push. He'd had some issues with constipation and soon he was withholding his stool. He didn't poop for over ten days, and all day long, about every ten minutes, he'd stop what he was doing to hold it in. It became a medical issue and we had to take him to the doctor for a very strong and painful enema. It was horrible!!!

We thought we had done all the right things; sticker chart, rewards, shopping for new underwear, .........I tried the "potty-train your child in one day" book, which I think is a good book; it just didn't work on our son. I even called and talked to the book author several times looking for advice! Nothing worked, nothing.

After that as per doctor advice, we backed off, left him in pull-ups, and every once and a while we'd ask him if he wanted to wear underwear, go on the potty, etc..... and he'd say no. Eventually, with laxitives, we got beyond the stool issues, things had settled down, but preschool was coming up, so we made up a story about the "pull-up fairy" who came an took his pull-ups for a boy who really needed him, and she left him some cool new underwear, etc.... and we just stopped with the pull-ups. It was a mess for a very, very long time, but we stuck with the "pull-ups are only for bedtime" plan and eventually he "got it."

The ideas about punishing him or making him clean up after himself didn't work for us either. Sticker charts with a "big reward" at the end didn't either. He is much more into instant feedback. We used love, hugs, praises, and of course, candy - skittles and starbursts sit on a shelf above our toilet, and sometimes he still asks for one, sometimes he doesn't. We found, with our son, praising the positive and somewhat ignoring the negative worked. Exceptions to that are "tv watching" and other fun stuff that are "privileges" in our house, and if there is a potty accident, no tv or no play do or whatever is the privilege, because "big boys can watch tv" "boys who pee/poop their pants just are not big boys." That seems to work too.

Lately, he's figured out if he has an accident, he just goes to his room and changes himself, so now we're working on the clean-up part, not as a punishment, but as a logical consequence to making a mess. That would NOT have worked when he was three.

My daughter who is not yet two loves the toilet, loves to sit on it, and occasionally pees in it. She wants to be changed immediately after she goes, and with any luck, she'll be trained a lot earlier, but we're not going to push it.

Every kid is different, and I wish you luck. Hands down, this was my worst experience (so far) as a parent, and I guess when I look at all the other trials parents go through, I consider myself pretty lucky.

Sounds like your 3 year old is very smart, and already knows that he has you wrapped around his finger.. It's gross but, it may work, it has on other kids I know.. Hide all his diapers somewhere he will not find them, and tell him that they do not make diapers for his size. Tell him that he can no wear his big boy underware, if he doesn't want to wear them, then just put his pants on him. Let him make a mess in his pants if he does not want to potty in the toliet. Diapers just soke up, he will not like sitting in his dirty pants.. Good luck

I would just let go of your need to control the situation. He'll do it when he's ready-all kids are different. It needs to be his idea. Children work on accomplishing one success at a time. Perhaps he is currently working on language or some other issue right now. Give him some time and patience. He knows what to do when he's ready.

Hi A.,

My son (will be 3 in a week) is very stubborn as well however here are a few "tricks" I tried with him. He has been potty trained for about a month now! First, it is important to remember that their body needs to be physically ready to go potty. However, my son played similar games with telling me his was going potty, etc. which told me he was ready to go on the toilet.

I started by taking him to the store to pick out "Big Boy" underwear...he got to pick out his favorite character. I told him that he could only wear those if he could keep his diaper dry.

I started a potty chart with him too. To start with he got a sticker when he sat on the toilet and tried to go, as well as a sticker if he went potty...up to 2. Once he got used to sitting on the potty, I changed the sticker chart so he only got a sticker when he went potty. Maybe just seeing his success on a chart could help.

My son kept his diaper dry pretty quickly so we introduced the underwear. I sat him on the potty every hour and a half or so and constantly asked if he had to go potty.

Another thing that helped was "Elmo Potty Time" DVD. He loves Elmo so this was something he could relate to. We have also been talking about preschool a lot lately and I told him he couldn't go to preschool like his friends until he started using the potty. I don't know if your son is in daycare or not but this was very motivating too.

I know it can be frustrating, especially since it sounds like your son has been on track developmentally so far. I felt like the minute I gave up trying to potty train him he figured it out.

One other thought...are you trying to teach him standing up or sitting? My son sits for now and I have read that that is the best way to start. Then once they master that you can introduce standing up.

Good Luck...hope this helps!

I am going through the exact same thing. I just bought a dvd on ebay called "I gotta go". The Dr. suggested it so I thought what the heck. Well, it came on Friday, my 3 year old watched it the first time and said Bye Bye Diapers I am a big boy and went and put underwear on. I figured it wouldn't last long but he is still in underwear this morning (Sunday) and no accidents. Everytime he tries to whine I ask him if he wants to watch the video again and he starts talking about being a big boy like the kids in the movie. He even wants to wear underwear over his pull up at night. It's worth a shot!

My daughter just turned 3 in Dec. We were having the same problem with her. She knew how to go to the bathroom, and would go when I would take her, but she would never go on her own. I swear she would go all day with a wet pull-up rather than stop to go potty! We tried candy and sticker charts, bought "big girl" underwear, even tried letting her go naked. Nothing worked! After 6mo, I was frustrated so we took a break. The thing that finally worked was we took her for a tour of the preschool she will be attending in the fall (for which she HAS to be potty trained). She was really excited, and I guess that was enough motivation. I know it's hard to stand back and let it happen, when you want it to happen NOW, but it WILL happen when he is ready!

My son was trained at 3 1/2. He would still mess in his pants though so I told him that I change dirty diapers not dirty underwear, that he would have to clean himself up if it continued. That actually worked for a couple of weeks.

He was really into Ninja Turtles and we had been giving him an action figure at the end of each dry/clean day while training. Well I had found the best two figures--the head honchos and I told him that he couldnt have them until he stopped messing in his pants. That one worked and stuck!

Good luck!

my son was trained very shortly after his 3rd birthday and we had a very very long power struggle. Take a break from it for a week and then start again fresh with a new approach and try not to get mad. I tried everything also, but I think rewards worked best for us. He picked out anything he wanted (backpack) and I put it on top of the fridge so he could see it. That was his grand prize for being potty trained and he couldn't have it until he was done. I made a sticker potty chart. He got a sticker everytime he went potty when he was dry. If he already had a wet diaper then no sticker. He would also get a sticker at the end of the day if he was dry all day. He would pick out and put the stickers on the chart himself. I had about 5 boxes and then I would put a :) on the a square. When he reached a :) he could pick a small prize or reward. I have a cupboard full of small toys from garage sales or he could pick a special snack (popsicle or chips and a juice box) or do something special like play a game or fingerpaint. At the end of the rows every now and then I would put incentives he could reach like go to the pool, picnic in the park, or to the zoo(which was also his grand prize). I think all of these choices he had make on his own really made him feel like a big boy with some power and he liked that he could see his progress. He would regularly look at his chart and count his stickers. He was so proud of it! When he started staying dry most of the time I made a row of dry all day and at the end of that row his prize was undies(ones we already had). He thought that was neat and then if he was dry in his undies for a whole row he won to go to the store and pick out his own undies. I made him go several rows in his undies before he won his backpack.
I was paranoid about accidents so I made him stay in pull ups as long as possible until I thought he was ready. :) We only had a total of 3 accidents. He had 2 accidents after he initially won his undies. I put him back in pullups and made him do the row again to win them back. The next time he won his undies he had one accident. I said if he wets again he would loose his undies and have to do it again. He made up his mind and was potty trained. We have had zero accidents since and I rarely ask him if he has to go. He is 3 1/2. I hope this helps some. Good luck!!

I tried the treats too, and that didn't work. I went to the $1 store and bought lots of little gifts and wrapped them up in brightly colored paper, put them in a large basket and set it in the bathroom so he could see it...but not get to it. I continually reinforced that if he went on the potty he would get to choose a gift. I did this for 3 days where he would get to pick one out each time he went. After the 3rd day, we started a "potty chart" with his favorite stickers. If he went the entire day going on the potty, he got to choose a gift. After 5 days of this, the gifts were gone but we continued the potty chart for about 2 weeks. If he went the entire week going on the potty, he got to do something special (his choice was going to McD's playland and the second time was Chucky Cheese). After that, I would say he was completely trained and has only had one accident since (he's now 5). What kid doesn't like presents...worked for him! Good luck!

A., I am a mommy of a 4 1/2 year old girl who just finished her potty training about 8 months ago. She had a really hard time pooping since she was just a baby so potty training was trying. We too used all the tactics. I talked with my doc many times and at the end he encouraged us to put together a potty chart with special stickers that she picked out. Then talk about something that she really wanted. For her it is Kindergarten and a princess dress. So we worked week by week until she built up to her dress. But in order to do this as well we needed to get rid of all the pull-ups in the house. So everytime she used one we were one step closer to being all out. Once we were all out she had no choice any more. With a few accidents and alot of patience, we are officially potty trained with no accidents.

I moved my stubborn three and a half year old to cloth diapers which were not nearly equipped to hold his flow (this boy has a large bladder) and he did not like the large mess he made and I explained that he had made a choice to go right then and if he just made that choice on the potty all would be well. Also, when we were outside in the yard I took off his clothes (it was summer) and when he said he had to pee I pointed at a tree, he loved it and spent all summer peeing outside (literally running out of the house saying "I have to pee mom!" I realize it's winter, but maybe you live somewhere warm. Hope this helps.

A. I have 3 children 1 boy 2 girls. Each child is different and I learned not to do the power struggle. My son was the easiest of the 3. He was trained before he was 2 and he made the choice. My oldest daughter was trained and then when I had #3 she went back to wetting. I treid everything also and it was really until she went to school and saw other kids that she was truly potty trained. She wouldn't take bribes of treats, she didn't care if I made her change her own clothes. She was very strong willed and I guess always will be. Don't worry you are doing great don't get frustrated because that just makes him want to be more in control! Good Luck

my son took a while to potty train too and I know it can be frustrating. But my advice to you is just to drop it, forget about it. If your son is stubborn then your battling him is only going to prolong his refusal (Just because he wants to WIN). Just tell him you have decided he must not be ready and then drop it (and really drop it, don't mention it again). Then try again in about a month. The thing that really worked for my son was when he started a park district class and noticed that none of the other boys wore pull ups. That was the end of that. He found his own motivation and that was way more powerful then any reward I could have offered. I totally and completely disagree with taking away his favorite toy when he messes. We are talking about a three year old here, not a 6 year old. It is still in the realm of normal for three year olds to be struggling with potty training. The bigger deal you make of it the worse a problem you are creating and chances are the longer it will take since now there is are all these negative emotions related to the potty. The potty is a scary place for kids parents dont need to add to it by standing over them making demands. Let it happen on it's own. He wont be graduating from High School in pull ups, promise...he'll figure it out! Good luck!

Hi A.,

My son was a late potty trainer (4 years old). We tried everything as well. When I stepped back and didn't make any effort/encouragement I think that was when he showed the interest because then he felt more "in control", and the process was then on his terms. I also made him change his own pants. This helped cut down the number of accidents as the feeling of wet/poopy was uncomfortable for him so it sped up the training I think. I hope that helps a little.

K. mother of 3(8 year old boy, and 2 girls- 5 and 3)


I am afraid you will have to wait until HE is ready. The best thing to do is back off and give him a little time. Once it stops being a power struggle, introduce the potty to him again. He will do it in his own time when he gets tired of the diapers.

L. :)

How about telling him that 3 year olds use the potty. Then come up with a reward chart with a reward he wants. For my boy he loved cars. So I asked him which new one he wanted, We made a chart with 5 circles and the picture at the end, and then he felt pride in acomplishing it. As he got better, the circles became more and the prize became more. Then the diapers were only for bed time. Also he got to pick out his underwear. Also, you can say that only big boys who use the potty get to... watch tv, go out to the park, have friends over... Do it with empathy and say how sad for you. What would you like to do now, have no tv or use the potty. Ok - good luck - mommy's here to help. And cheer him on. He needs to own this. Don't get mad. It's not like he's going to go to school not potty trained. They won't allow it and when he sees other big kids going he'll want to be just like them. If you are the point of frustration - take a few days before you start this. Then just go full throttle. Sit him on the toilet every hour expecting him to use it or try before anything else can happen. You go to the bathroom when you get up, after breakfast, before you get in the car, before lunch....

Change the perspective - put the power in his hands. It sounds like there are some pretty major changes coming for him as much as for you. He may just be feeling like this is his one thing he has control over. It's not a positive thing, but it's something dependable for him.

Does he have a favorite toy? Each time he has an "accident" take the toy away. Each time he puts the "potties" in the toilet give him the toy back. When he gets the toy back after a successful potty trip, tell him, "Do you realize that EVERY time you put your potties in the toilet you KEEP your toy?" That leaves it up to him. All the power to keep that toy rests solely with him. Maybe that will be enough for him to still feel in control, only in a more positive way.

I struggled for a year and a half to train our daughter. I KNEW she could do it, she was obviously choosing not to. We fell into that pattern of having an "on-purpose" (we quite calling them accidents because they weren't accidents) and getting the toy taken away, using the toilet and getting it back, and then back and forth. That's when I finally said the very words I suggested you use. She NEVER had another "on-purpose" after that!

Hope you find something that works!

Let him know there are consequences to be paid for going to the bathroom in his pants. Take away something that he really likes to do when he doesn't use the toilet. Or make him sit in a corner or tell him he can't play with someone he likes playing with until he starts using the toilet.

My son went through this too, it will pass. For kids, the only thing they feel they have control of is bathroom issues. You might want to address any feelings he is having about your upcoming marriage as it might just be the underlying issue to his problem.

Putting him in a daycare a couple of days a week might also help, especially as he will see that other kids use the toilet (and the babies do not), he will become embarrassed at messing in his pants and start using the toilet on his own. This is what worked for my son. He wanted to be like the big kids and started using the toilet as he should.

Hey A.,

Have you considered making a potty chart and applying stickers after each use? My daughter loved coloring the chart and gets so excited when she gets to place a sticker after she has goes to the bathroom. Having that been said...some days she decides to go without her diaper while other days she wants nothing to do with the potty. My daughter will be 3 in June, and I can attest to the stubborness you're describing with your son. It must be a part of being 3. How does your son do around other children his age? Perhaps, exposure to already potty-trained little boys could help. Hang in there, I am sure that he will get it soon :)


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